James L. Marchese, MPA, JD
To say that James L. Marchese, MPA, JD, is a man of many talents would be an immense understatement as few others have ever worn such a wide variety of hats. He is an experienced entrepreneur, banker, whistleblower, chief executive officer, film producer, and actor; yet his role as a husband to Amber and as a father to their children, Corbin and Isabella, is first and foremost. And while he’s a devoted family man, he is also a skilled litigator and a financial thought leader who serves as president and CEO of MortgageNOW, Inc., a New Jersey-based company where he has lent and insured over $10 billion in mortgage-backed securities. James also reviews potential business ventures and whistleblower cases by utilizing his master’s degree from Columbia University and Juris Doctorate in law from Seton Hall Law School. In fact, he was recognized in 2015 for his role in helping the Department of Justice win a record $16.65 billion settlement against Bank of America. He has appeared on Money Beat, Fox Business, Good Morning America, and Watch What Happens Live, and has been featured in Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Inquisitor, Daily UK, People.com, and Newsweek. He has also been a contributor to Yahoo Finance and was a top influencer on Twitter, with more than 9.5 million impressions per month.
When he is not working in financial services, James devotes time to his new-found passion—acting and producing in the film industry. He and Amber have both starred in Real Housewives of New Jersey, Marriage Bootcamp, and they are now working on a new project; a full length feature film and limited series, Abaddon. We recently had the opportunity to meet with James to learn more about his unique, multifaceted career.
Let’s begin with your roles as president and CEO. Tell us about the work you do at MortgageNOW.
I joined MortgageNOW in 2002, so I’ve been with them for nearly 20 years. We are a private equity mortgage banking firm as well as a non-supervised Title II lender, which means we make our own choices and decisions regarding lending, processing, underwriting, origination, etc., based upon the guidelines we choose. My office is in Shrewsbury, NJ, and at one time we employed over 500 staff members in twenty-five states. Since changes were recently made in federal rules, we’ve had to make some cuts and are now primarily focusing on our locations in CA, PA, MD, and NJ.
How does the firm’s flexibility benefit your clients?
At MortgageNOW, we can do things that 99% of other banks can’t do. As a private equity, non-supervised Title II lender, we have the freedom to look at each borrower’s individual loans and to make unique decisions that are tailored to each person. We also put together multiple options for our clients and have guidelines no one else can match. We can lend to self-employed borrowers, people with rapidly increasing income, young adults with student loans, and more. These days we are helping many self-employed borrowers refinance and find homes as well first-time home buyers. We are also helping those hurt by the COVID pandemic, who suffered interruptions of income. A significant portion of our business is helping people who the big banks turn down. We take great pride being characterized as the “Main Street lender” not the “Wall Street lender.”
As a life-long entrepreneur, how did you get involved in the film industry?
My wife, Amber, is an actress, who has starred in Real Housewives of New Jersey, Marriage Bootcamp, car and cooking commercials, appeared on The View, Cathy Lee and Hoda Today Show, Watch What Happens Live, The Real, E Entertainment, Extra Extra, and other international programs. So, a film team approached her about being in an upcoming project they were working on. They originally planned to create a limited series and shot the trailer along with several scenes. However, when they started editing, COVID hit. The team realized they needed to pivot, so the series was then transitioned into a full-length feature film which will lead to a limited series—Abaddon. One day, Amber asked me if I would be interested in producing the film, and when I looked at the project, I saw that it had great writing and accepted.
You have described Amber as “the glue that holds everything together.” What else would you like us to know about your wife?
Amber is a remarkable woman, loving mother and an amazing wife. She is well educated, with a master’s degree from Columbia University. However, it is her inner strength and faith that are her defining traits, not her education. She is a New Jersey native who puts her family above everything. Amber lost her father, a war veteran, to pancreatic cancer at 19 years old. After just two years of marriage, Amber was diagnosed with breast cancer. At 31 years old, she underwent nine surgeries, including a double mastectomy and a year and a half of chemotherapy—all while caring for our children. It was a very difficult time as Isabella and Corbin were both under three-years-old at the time. She was in remission for several years before relapsing, but thankfully the second course of treatment has proven successful and she has been cancer free for over five years. She just amazes me with the dedication and hard work that she puts towards raising the children. She didn't like what was going on in the school districts, so she took the ‘bull by horns’ and began teaching her own curriculum to our children. The four of us make a wonderful team together; my family makes life an adventure.
Amber is certainly a woman of strength, which also shows on screen. Will we be seeing her in Abaddon?
She is actually behind the scenes on this project. We are both executive producers and Amber does an amazing job of running the set. Surprisingly, I am the one who will be appearing on the big screen this time. I am trying to convince her to take a small part but so far, she wants to stay behind the camera. I think she likes being the boss.
What can you tell us about the plot?
The story follows two FBI agents investigating a series of gruesome murders in the Catskills. They believe the killings are cult-related and through a lead, end up interviewing my character for more clues. I play the role of Massimo, an Italian banker who was in a federal prison but now spends a lot of time trying to reform inmates through his religious order. As the FBI interviews me, they uncover a much deeper plot that involves corrupt judges, politicians, and businessman, who are committing crimes that have so far gone unpunished. The FBI believes I can assist in finding the group of killers but then realizes I am more of an asset for illuminating the pattern of how the victims are being selected. I can’t tell you much more than that, but it’s an exciting project that has taken center stage. The team has completed the script and filmed a few teaser scenes, so we expect to start a 26-day film shoot during Q4 2021. We are still looking to fill a few spots on the production/investor and talent sides, so if anyone is interested, I would love to hear from them. The opportunity to publish content is beyond anything seen in history due to the rise of streaming, so are expecting this to be a big hit.
James L. Marchese, MPA, JD
President and CEO
1161 Broad Street, Suite 212, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
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